Caps strike early against Lightning for much-needed home win


The Capitals struck three times in the first period Wednesday in a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a much-needed win on home ice where Washington has struggled of late.

Here are some observations from the game.

Now that's how you start a game

Bad starts have been an issue of late for the Caps, but not on Wednesday. Washington came out swinging in this one with three goals in the first period including two in the first ten minutes.

Tampa Bay was not in sync at all defensively to start and the Caps took advantage. Conor Sheary dumped the puck into the corner and then won the footrace to the puck. One Lightning player went after the puck, one went behind the goal line and another went to the wall, thus leaving the front of the net wide open. Sheary found John Carlson with the pass and Carlson fed Fehervary for the goal.

Carlson extended the lead to 2-0 with a point shot on the power play just over two minutes later. Alex Ovechkin would make it 3-1 later in the period.

1,400 points

Ovechkin's goal came when he could not thread a pass through traffic in front of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. He followed up the pass and managed to shoot the loose puck, hitting the top shelf for the goal.

The goal was yet another milestone for Ovechkin as it was career point No. 1,400. He is just the 21st player in history to reach that mark. Ovechkin would add point No. 1,401 with an assist in the second period and is eight points away from tying Dale Hawerchuk's mark of 1,409 points and cracking the top-20.


Interesting note, rival Sidney Crosby sits just behind Ovechkin with 1,397 points.

Carlson would not be denied

Carlson tallied a goal in the first period then struck again with 5.7 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper, however, challenged the goal as offside and won the challenge, thus taking Carlson's second tally off the board.

But Carlson would not be denied.

In the second period on a power play, T.J. Oshie managed a great feed to Carlson at the point. With room to work, Carlson stepped up to about the top of the faceoff circles and fired a shot to beat Vasilevskiy and restore his second goal.

Carlson's disallowed goal would have made the score 4-2. Carlson's second goal once again gave Washington the 4-2 lead.

In addition to the goals, Carlson also notched two assists giving him four points for the night. It was just his third career four-point game and his first since Dec. 29, 2021.

Sammy starts

This felt coming in like a very important game for goalie Ilya Samsonov. Vitek Vanecek had established himself as the team's No. 1, but a rough stretch may have opened the door for Samsonov to creep back into the mix. He had to have a strong performance Wednesday and, for the most part, he delivered.

In his first start since March 25, Samsonov played the game with his typical chaotic flair and finished with 25 saves on 28 shots and the win. He wasn't perfect. The Lightning's second goal was a rolling puck by Nicholas Paul that Samsonov probably needed to stop. He also completely lost sight of the puck on Ross Colton's goal late in the game that pulled Tampa Bay to within one.

Samsonov's best save on the night came in the first period when he denied Nikita Kucherov on a 2-on-1 with a fantastic stick save.

Home cookin'

Washington desperately needed a win at home. The Caps had lost four of their last five at Capital One Arena with an overall record on the season of 16-15-5. Wednesday's game was an important one as it gave the team not just a win, but a win at home against the two-time defending champs. This should be a confidence boost for a team that seemed to need one in the worst way.